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12 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

12 Things Great Leaders Don’t Do

Great leaders are known for their vision, their ability to make tough decisions and inspire their staff. But what does this mean in practice? Here are 12 things great leaders never do.

1. They don’t put things off

A famous example of a leader who procrastinated during the American Civil War was General McClellan. Nothing was quite ready. This cost the nation thousands of lives and Abraham Lincoln had no choice but to sack the General.

A real leader knows when to make decisions and to take appropriate action. They also know that keeping all options open is a sign of weakness.

2. They don’t listen enough.

If a leader is not prepared to listen actively, then there’s something wrong. Many so-called leaders are so confident of their infallibility that they never really listen. They also make a pretence of listening which may result in a premature assessment and poor decisions. The result is they lose their employees’ trust, confidence, and loyalty.

Successful leaders know how to listen with empathy. They are also willing to answer questions, clarify issues, and respond to concerns.

3. They don’t sit back and relax

Many leaders seem to be satisfied with achieving moderate success and take it easy, once certain objectives have been reached. The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, once said, ‘The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.’ The intelligent leader knows that striving for better results and greater success is the key to a successful business.

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4. They don’t know how to communicate

Many managers fail to inspire their colleagues. They lack the skills in communicating the company’s vision, policies and strategies to their employees. The result is that teams work badly.

Great leaders spend some time in organizing what they need to communicate and the best way of doing it clearly. They know that this time is well spent and will pay off handsomely in the long run. They also realize the potential of multi communication platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In to maximize contact.

5. They don’t know how to delegate

When poor leaders do not know the strengths and skills of each team member, they find it practically impossible to delegate.

Proper assessment of each member’s abilities is the key to successful delegation. Staff feel involved and valued.

6. Their values don’t reflect the company’s ethics

All too often, ineffectual leaders do not share the values and company’s ethics wholeheartedly. No surprise to learn that their teams lack inspiration and are satisfied with mediocrity.

The most successful leaders are totally convinced about their company’s values and are committed 100% to following these through in their business relations. There is total transparency in their staff assessments, business dealings and their hiring and firing.

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7.  They don’t view setbacks negatively

‘Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.’- Henry Ford.

Uninspiring leaders are often fearful of obstacles and this may very well delay their decisions and affect their action plans negatively.

Dealing with setbacks and obstacles is no stranger to the successful leader. He steers clear of those colleagues who were cautious and can now say that they knew X would happen because of Y. He will never play the blame game, either with himself or his staff.

The Harvard Business Review recommends that the successful leader refocuses on his/her goals because now is the time to accelerate again after assessing any fallout. They mention Donald Trump who failed not once, but twice in his casino enterprises. That did not daunt him from becoming a leading estate developer and producer.

8. They are not emotionally intelligent

Many business leaders and executives display an astounding ignorance or a lack of awareness of emotional intelligence. They are not even aware of EI and what it involves. They fail to realize the damage done by not being able to control their emotions. They fly off the handle at the slightest provocation and they are socially inept. They shout and criticize people openly and they do not make any effort at all to hide negative and harmful emotions. Staff morale plummets and there is a fearful and threatening atmosphere.

Successful leaders know how to control their emotions and they are calm in a crisis. They are also aware of their staff’s moods and emotions when faced with setbacks and know how to praise and encourage them, whether things go well or badly. This is the atmosphere where motivation will thrive and positive staff relations will soar. Learning how to resolve conflict and improve communication will help any business to flourish. You can only do that by being emotionally intelligent.

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9. They don’t see the value of feedback

Everyone craves praise and recognition after a job which has required effort, thought, dedication, patience, and sweat. Poor leaders tend to be mean with praise but also cannot be bothered to give constructive feedback.

The best leaders know when a person needs help and they will care enough to give the help and encouragement needed for success. If it is done helpfully, it can transform a mediocre employee into a high performing one.

10. They don’t think outside the box

Poor leaders tend to micro manage and oversee every little detail. This stifles creativity in their employees.

Brilliant leaders know how much leeway and responsibility they can give their employees, without ever having to supervise and suffocate. The results will speak for themselves and employees will respect you for the confidence you showed in them.

‘It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.’ – Nelson Mandela.

11. They don’t seek advice

Weak leaders always want to display how much they know and how they are on top of the job. This means, in reality, that they rarely seek the advice of colleagues because they are so intent on maintaining their position of authority.

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Wise leaders know instinctively that their employees can be a source of inspiration, ideas, and even sound advice. They know that they need to learn too.

12. They don’t see the value of excellence

‘Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.’ –Steve Jobs

Simply put, great leaders are dedicated to excellence in everything they do. This can range from innovation, staff relations, communications, goal setting, giving feedback and making tough decisions. The pursuit of excellence is the simplest way to describe great leadership.

Let us know in the comments how you have benefited from working with a great leader.

Featured photo credit: Leadership= Vision/Celestine Chua via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

But do you know what motivates your people?

It’s simple:

  • Is their work stimulating?
  • Does it challenge them?
  • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
  • Do you encourage creativity?
  • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
  • Do you praise them?
  • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
  • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
  • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

  • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
  • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
  • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
  • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

6. Monitor Their Workload

Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

  • Red means they’re fully loaded.
  • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
  • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

The Bottom Line

A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

More to Motivate Your Team

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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